Maryanne Wick: The poetic fragment
Hendrik Kolenberg on the art of Maryanne Wick
Most of us are surrounded by objects of all kinds, useful and useless, thoughtfully selected, gathered by chance, accumulated over time, inherited. Some may be new, machine-made or by hand, ancient, valuable, fragile or ephemeral. Some may show signs of wear, be broken, damaged or repaired, and others are just remnants. Their significance to us and of course others, varies. Objects have long featured in the art of western European painting, mainly in still life compositions following the example of artists in 17th century Netherlands, which opened up possibilities for countless others since, including Maryanne Wick.
There is tenderness and intimacy in everything that Maryanne Wick makes, as well as playfulness and a tendency to fantasy. She has an eye for the overlooked and discarded, for broken crockery, lids, cups and bowls stacked up or inside one another, or tightly grouped on the floor in a corner out of the way, where a cat may sit and linger or slide its feline form around and through. And other animals may enter the scene – a water dragon or birds. Her series of paintings for ‘Copito and the Lizard’ illustrate that perfectly.
The ambiguity of shape and form intrigues her, as does the feel or texture of objects and what they may suggest, or it is the unexpected arrangement of some few or many that attracts her. She revels in the play of light on surfaces, in complexity and nuances; there is also restraint but with an undercurrent of sensuality, especially in her handling of paint and colour.
A mature age graduate of the National Art School, Sydney in 2001, Maryanne Wick has also taught there as part of its public programme. She has travelled in Europe and Asia, lived in London (where she had the good fortune to work at the Globe Theatre during reconstruction), Hong Kong and Seoul, and most recently in Castilla La Mancha, Spain, where a collection of 3,000 year old Iberian artefacts at the Museo Municipal de Valdepeñas seriously attracted her interest.
She has a particular predilection for subjects that allow for the subtlest of tonal variation. One of her most appealing recent paintings Hide and Seek (2020) is entirely painted in delicate tones of grey – in it organically formed vertical jars clustered together, reach upward suggesting a cliff-face. A white cat explores below. Although still life is her principal subject area for painting, she is also drawn to landscape and portraits.
A lemon yellow vessel, a handsome green jug or vivid blue bowl may also interrupt the seeming asceticism of her palette, as well as scumbling dry brush marks to activate painted surfaces. Elsewhere, she has collaged cut canvas shapes to suggest objects, underscoring the abstract material nature of her art. Her approach to subject and to materials reveals a search for the poetic, for mystery and surprise. Each work displays the independence of her highly personal sensibility, one that seduces the viewer with its finely orchestrated sensitivity to the tactile and the observable.